• Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation's 26th Annual Festival of the Arts Has a Record-Breaking Weekend

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    November 04, 2021
    Fine art welcomed a record-breaking 6,200 plus art lovers to the 26th Annual Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) Festival of the Arts. The two-day signature art celebration held Oct. 30 and 31 in the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village in Destin, Fla., featured exhibits of more than 110 premier artists from across the United States showcasing a diverse palette of artistic style. The weekend was brought to life thanks to ideal weather conditions and live music featuring six musicians and a cameo appearance by the Sinfonia Youth Orchestra, a kid's art corner, and more than seven local favorite food trucks and drink stations.

    "We are thrilled at the response and support for the 26th MKAF Destin Annual Festival of the Arts. This year's success is a testament to how important the arts are for our community and a direct reflection of the 100+ talented participating artists, musicians, food vendors, and most importantly, our incredible festival producer Deb Nissley," stated MKAF CEO Demetrius Fuller

    Guest judges Adrienne Clow, Marketing and Exhibits Director for the Eastern Shore Art Center in Fairhope, Ala.; Jerry R. Johnson, Director of Public Art and Exhibitions for Thomasville Center of the Arts, awarded 27 ribbons and cash prizes. Recognizing artists whose work reflected exceptional talent and craftsmanship, the judges awarded "Best in Show", three Awards of Excellence, five Awards of Merit, and 10 Judges' Recognition Awards.

     Pictured here: Curtis Whitwam, Best in Show Festival of the Arts Winner. Photo by Kay Phelan

    Best in Show artist Curtis Whitwam was born and raised in Tampa, Fla. Whitman expresses his love for waterways and wildlife, "I love to share the feeling of deep connection to nature through watercolor paintings and underwater videos that I create to inspire everyone to get outside and appreciate the beauty and abundance of wild Florida," says Whitwam. 

    The Best in Show Adult winner of the Collaborative Art Exhibit was awarded to Ian Fagan. The Best in Show Student winner was Veronika Jacobson from Fort Walton Beach High School. The Collaborative Art Exhibit features adults and students competing for the Special McIlroy Awards in honor of the late Patricia McIlroy, Destin's First Lady, and an MKAF advocate and patron. 

    MKAF will begin accepting artist and poster entry applications for the 2022 Festival of the Arts in February 2022. The 2022 MKAF Annual Festival of the Arts is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29, and Sunday, Oct. 30.
    Artists honored as follows:

    Best in Show Winner ($1,600)
    Curtis Whitwam

    Award of Excellence Winners ($800)
    Michael Fagan
    Roger & Renae Poer
    Kelly Hatfield

    Award of Merit Winners ($400)
    Robin Holt 
    Jeff Waldorff
    Kelly Rysavy 
    Wanda Azzario-Goldberg
    Joseph Frye

    Judge's Recognition Award Winners ($200)
    Chandler Williams
    Andrea Chipser
    Michelle McLendon
    Maria Spies 
    Dorothy Starbuck
    Robin Renee Hix
    Tom Radca
    Roger Disney
    Michael Lunsford
    Royal Miree

    People's Choice Award ($800)
    Estelle Grengs

    Poster Art Contest Winner ($500)
    Estelle Grengs

    Collaborative Exhibit Winners
    Best in Show ($200) - Ian Fagan - Taygaytay Market
    Adult 1st Place ($100) Don David - Happy Face
    Adult 2nd Place ($75) Steve Morrison - Rainbow Horizon
    Adult 3rd Place ($50) Clint Eager - Pintail Duck
    Best in Show - Student ($200) Veronika Jacobson
    Student 1st Place ($100) Tara Row- Mind Peace
    Student 2nd Place ($75) Olivia Huff - Untitled 
    Student 3rd Place ($50) Rayna Lowery - Chew Toy

    Thanks to the generous support of 50 business partners, media sponsors, and a team of more than 100 volunteers, art lovers of all ages watched artists create works of art, browsed and purchased art from dozens of emerging and student artists, and engaged at the interactive children's art station. Beyond the visual arts, the Festival featured six music acts performing two days of continual live music and a sampling of the local culinary arts scene. Live blacksmithing demonstrations, entertaining street performers, and the sale of souvenirs set the tone for a family-friendly festival. 

    "This year's festival included a wide array of amazing artists from all over the United States. We were truly honored to be able to present them and they were absolutely THRILLED at the incredible support from our community." said Deb Nissley, Director of Operations, Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation

    Event proceeds help to fund MKAF's cultural season of events and community outreach programs serving populations of K-12 students and families, including children and adults with special needs, at-risk youth, and a wounded warrior initiative for our returning combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. 

    For more information on how you can become a member of MKAF or provide a donation, please call (850) 650-2226 or visit www.mkaf.org. For a full list of upcoming MKAF events, follow MKAF on Facebook. 
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